Important changes for prepaid electricity meters in South Africa – what you need to know

 ·19 Oct 2023

Power utility Eskom is getting ready to push hard on its prepaid meter recode initiative, which will ensure millions of meters can keep operating next year.

The initiative, called the Key Revision Number (KRN) Rollover, was ‘soft’ launched in August 2023, where Eskom has spent the last two months ironing out technical and other issues.

Millions of Standard Transfer Specification (STS)-compliant prepaid electricity meters in South Africa will stop vending electricity in November 2024, when the current TID codes used for the systems will expire.

After this date, all STS-compliant meters will stop accepting credit tokens.

To prepare for this, Eskom and municipalities across the country are pushing a “do it yourself” method of updating the meters so that they can continue to operate.

According to Eskom, there are 6.8 million prepaid meters that need to be recoded – so far, around 672,000 of these have been issued with recode tokens.

At the current rate, the group has managed to recode almost 230,000 units a month – however, with only 12 months remaining before the deadline, the group will have to double this, up to at least 500,000 units a month.

Prepaid meters recoded so far

Based on the results of the “soft” roll out, Eskom said it is confident that the project will be successfully implemented and on time.

Across the provinces, the Northern Cape has currently shown the most progress, with 21.4% of meters recoded. This is followed by the Free State and Gauteng. The Western Cape has the most work left to do with only 2% of units done.

  • Northern Cape: 21.4%
  • Free State: 19.7%
  • Gauteng: 18.1%
  • Mpumalanga: 15.2%
  • Limpopo: 10.2%
  • Eastern Cape: 7.1%
  • North West: 6.8%
  • KwaZulu Natal: 3.6%
  • Western Cape: 2.1%

Through the initiative, customers will be informed and guided through the process. Communication on the process will happen through various channels, including radio, TV, community print, newspapers, leaflets, posters, social media and Eskom’s WhatsApp channel, it said.

Eskom said that, from October, the group will be ramping up the pace and volumes of meters being recoded, and it intends to target multiple service areas to accelerate the drive. Customers in residential areas will be notified via local media when it is their turn to recode the meters, it said.

Broadly, the recoding will work as follows:

Customers will be issued with a pair of key change tokens at the time when they purchase their normal top-up prepaid electricity via any of the Eskom-approved vending channels and outlets.

Eskom said that the process of buying electricity has not changed, and customers will still be able to use their preferred or vending channels and outlets, including being able to buy electricity from major banks, online platforms, fuel service stations, prepaid electricity vending agents and retailers.

Customers will enter the first of the 20-digit codes into the system and wait for it to be accepted.

After the code has been accepted, the second 20-digit code must be entered.

A third code – which is the top-up token – can then be entered. Customers will know the system has been successfully updated when the top-up token is successfully loaded.

Read: Big turn for Eskom and load shedding in South Africa

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